Timeshare Special Assessment Fees
Although more than 9.5 million American households own a timeshare, most are unaware of all the extra expenses and hidden fees that come along with signing the papers to purchase a timeshare property. At the time, buyers do not realize that they are agreeing to pay much more than just the initial sticker price and routine maintenance fees.
One of these less talked about financial obligations is the special assessment fee. This sneaky additional charge covers unforeseen expenses, such as necessary repairs for things like weather damage, but can be tacked onto your bill at any time and for any amount depending on the details of the charge. Despite the money coming from your pocket, you do not get a say in whether you’re charged special assessment fees to cover resort upgrades that you will never use, such as a new playground.
If you’re concerned about receiving special assessment fees for your timeshare, keep reading to find out what exactly these fees are, how they increase, how they affect timeshare owners and what you can do to avoid them.
What Is a Special Assessment?
Most people are familiar with the maintenance fees that come along with timeshares, which cover general property expenses like repairs, landscaping and lawn care. Paying maintenance fees are similar to being a part of a homeowners’ association (HOA) and contributing toward shared security measures and amenities like clubhouses and pools. Although these fees average around $980 per year, depending on details like the timeshare’s location and size, they are not the only fees timeshare owners need to worry about.
Most timeshares charge additional special assessment fees on top of maintenance fees to cover costs such as one-time repairs for property damage from severe weather or a new roof. Because timeshare owners are jointly responsible for their particular property within a resort, the resort is allowed to charge them special assessment fees that are above regular operating expenses to maintain the property and the resort’s amenities. If you receive a special assessment fee charge, make sure that the reason behind the charge is clearly stated and valid so you don’t pay for a fraudulent charge or have your funds misappropriated.
As the name suggests, special assessment fees stem from special assessments of the property. For example, after a severe storm, the damage caused to your property would be assessed, and whatever costs to repair the damages that aren’t included in the resort’s budget for maintenance money or covered by insurance will fall to you and the other owners.
Although it may seem like a good idea to allow supplementary fees to help cover unforeseen expenses like natural disasters, you can receive a special assessment fee at any time and for any amount, sometimes costing you thousands of additional dollars by the end of the year. This makes it extremely difficult to anticipate or save up money for special assessment fees each year, but you cannot opt out of them even if the fee is going toward an amenity you’ll never use, such as a new golf course.
Here are some of the most common special assessment fees timeshare owners encounter:
- Upgrades: Whenever a resort decides to improve its services or upgrade its amenities, it is the timeshare owners who are expected to pay for these extra expenses. Regular unit upgrades are the most common explanations for a special assessment fee but pay close attention to the reasoning behind any other additional charges on your timeshare bill.
- Inclement weather: Another primary reason for charging timeshare owners with special assessment fees is property repairs for damage done incurred from a natural disaster. This especially pertains to timeshares located in nice tropical locations, which may get hit harder during hurricane season. Think about whether the pros of owning a timeshare in a destructive weather-prone area outweigh the cons.
- Change in ownership: Sometimes larger resort conglomerates will buy up smaller resorts and flip them into new and improved profitable businesses for them to run. But turning a failing resort into a desirable vacation destination isn’t cheap, and timeshare owners often receive much of the bill for these resort renovations. Although you had no say in the change in ownership or building plans, you can get charged with paying for resort improvements if the new owners claim the current units don’t match up with the high standards of their brand.
- Revenue gap: When other timeshare owners can’t pay their portion of the fees or refuse to do so, this creates a revenue gap, and resorts are forced to rustle up that money from another source. Much of the time, they compensate for these losses by charging other timeshare owners additional special assessment fees on their monthly bills.
How Can Special Assessment Fees Increase?
Special assessment fees for timeshares can increase at any time for various reasons. Ultimately, the board of directors for the resort has complete control over what timeshare owners are charged for, how much they’re charged and when they receive the charges.
Estimating the exact cost of a special assessment fee is nearly impossible because each owner’s individual bill depends upon the total sum of the renovations or repairs. The timing behind receiving a special assessment fee charge can be equally as much of a guessing game. Actively keeping up with your timeshare HOA can help alert you to when you may be receiving a special assessment fee, but you can never quite know for certain.
As opposed to spacing out resort improvement charges or spreading damage control over an expansive amount of time, most resort boards decide to charge their timeshare owners with larger totals over a shorter amount of time. Receiving such substantial bills in the mail could come as a major shock to anyone who hasn’t been keeping meticulously close tabs on every upgrade project going on at the resort. If a special assessment fee ever takes a timeshare owner by surprise and they are unable to pay it on time, they may be required to give up the deed to the timeshare property.
Also, a rising number of timeshare owners legally canceling their timeshare contracts or failing to make their routine payments can spur an increase in special assessment fee charges. Resorts may place additional special assessment fee charges on the remaining owners to make up for the money they cannot now collect from those who are no longer owners.
This would mean that the cost of maintaining a certain property isn’t necessarily going up, but the number of people sharing the burden of that cost is going down, so each contributor must chip in a bit more to keep their share. Fewer timeshare owners can create a vicious cycle of monthly fees going up, more people canceling, fees going up to compensate for fewer contributors to the bill, then more people canceling and so on. Breaking this cycle can be extremely difficult, so it’s best to avoid getting caught in it in the first place.
One way to avoid getting overwhelmed by hefty timeshare assessment fees is to check a resort’s history and find out when its lastest renovation was. If a resort has not been refurbished within the last few years, it will likely undergo some improvements in the near future. Although a renovation does not guarantee a special assessment fee, it is still smart for anyone looking into buying a timeshare to be leery of properties that will need an upgrade soon.
How Can Special Assessment Fees Affect Timeshare Owners?
Too high of special assessment fees can cause timeshare owners to lose their properties. Similar to a maintenance fee, special assessment fee payments are not optional and cannot be deferred, so failure to pay one on time could cost owners their timeshares.
Although timeshare owners do not vote in what causes them to receive special assessment fees, such as whether the developer chooses to build a kiddie pool or expand the clubhouse, they are not permitted to opt out of paying the fee. Whatever the cost of the project that the resort’s board or the developer decides to undertake, timeshare owners will receive the bill for funding the renovations.
When you’re budgeting money for maintaining your timeshare, be sure to set aside an extra amount to cover extraneous costs like special case assessment fees. You may have a better chance of avoiding frequent special assessment fees if your timeshare is owned by a bigger developer. Whereas smaller clubs most likely won’t have a large general fund to dip into when necessary, bigger resorts are more likely to have a sizable amount of emergency money on reserve or liability insurance in case of disaster.
If you are a timeshare owner who continues to receive special assessment fees that you are unhappy with, here are some tips for managing the charges:
- Be cooperative: No matter how ridiculous or unfair the special assessment fees may seem to you, do not evade them. Refusing to pay your special assessment fee charges typically only leads to the resort upping the price of other future fees to offset that loss with money from elsewhere, so you’re paying the fee regardless.
- Count the pros and cons: If your timeshare is everything you hoped it would be and more, perhaps you can tolerate a few stray special assessment fees here and there. But if you’re receiving outlandish special assessment fees and you weren’t all that happy with your timeshare property to begin with, you may want to consider getting out of your timeshare ownership.
- Band together: Talk to fellow timeshare owners at your resort to see whether they’re experiencing a similar influx of special assessment fees and how they feel about it. If enough people are feeling upset and cheated, you may want to consider hiring a legal review service together to find out whether you have a viable claim as a group. Be aware that lawsuits aren’t always successful and can come with staggering expenses of their own, so make sure that this is a feasible option for all members of your party before committing to it.
In the end, the only way to clear your inbox of pesky special assessment fees for good is to get rid of your timeshare. As long as you own a timeshare property, you can expect yearly bills and extra fees. So if you’re fed up with paying above and beyond the maintenance fee agreement or unable to keep up with the exorbitant charges, it may be time for you to let your timeshare go.
Contact EZ Exit Now for Timeshare Cancellation Services to Avoid Special Assessment Fees
There’s no way to dodge getting charged with special assessment fees if you own a timeshare, but there is a way to discard of your timeshare duties. Most timeshare developers, however, offer only three to five days as the rescission period during which purchasers can back out of owning a timeshare property. If you are past that period, you will have to look into other options for exiting your timeshare.
Some resorts offer take-back programs that allow timeshare owners to return their properties to their developers. But, many timeshare owners either don’t have these programs available to them or still cannot return their timeshares through their resort’s take-back program. Before counting on using a take-back program, ask your resort what its take-back policy is and whether there’s anything you need to do to qualify for the program.
If neither the rescission period nor a take-back program is a viable option for you to get out of your timeshare ownership agreement, you may be able to exit your timeshare legally, ethically and responsibly by contacting EZ Exit Now. EZ Exit Now is a timeshare cancellation company that may be able to help you get out of your timeshare and guide you through the entire timeshare exit process.
To begin the timeshare exit process, we meet with a client wherever they feel most comfortable for an initial consultation to ensure they receive one-on-one attention. This first meeting allows us to learn all the details about the client’s timeshare property and current circumstances, which will help us decide if we can help the client get out of their timeshare and the best next steps to take doing so. After gathering all the necessary information, we draw up all the necessary paperwork and get an attorney or title company involved, depending on what your situation calls for.
Navigating the many phony businesses and scams within the timeshare industry can be exhausting. EZ Exit Now is a credible faith-based company offering a free consultation, so there’s no need to worry about wasting your time or money dealing with less trustworthy companies. Check out our customers’ testimonials to see how our reputation speaks for itself.
If you want to be free of your yearly timeshare property maintenance and special assessment fees, contact EZ Exit Now online today, or call (888) 276-6860.